Why Him?

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Why Him?

Dad Bryan Cranston is horrified when his daughter brings home new BF James Franco in this lame mainstream comedy

If you introduce a loaded gun in the first act of your story, it absolutely has to go off by the end. Chekhov’s tried-and-tested literary advice holds true in ‘Why Him?’ – except the gun isn’t a gun, but a vast, fragile glass tank filled with moose urine. These are the gags in John Hamburg’s charmless, largely laughless spin on the ‘Meet the Parents’ formula, an over-extended sitcom episode that returns Bryan Cranston to put-upon suburban dad territory.

When his college-senior daughter Stephanie (Zoey Deutch) invites the family to California for Christmas, buttoned-up Michigan print factory owner Ned (Cranston) is introduced to his worst nightmare of a prospective son-in-law. Meet Laird (James Franco), a vulgar, tattooed tech-bro billionaire whose verbal filter is nil, and who thinks nothing of leering over Stephanie’s mother (Megan Mullally) at the dinner table. Yet the twist in this personality clash is that both men are as appalling as each other: Ned is a possessive, controlling dullard, while Laird is an abject dimwit who makes Franco’s pimp Alien in ‘Spring Breakers’ look positively desirable by comparison.

What does smart, sweet Stephanie see in Laird? Don’t hold your breath to find out, since she’s granted as much perspective as a well-spoken ironing board. There could be a thorny dark comedy in this chauvinistic pissing contest. But in trying to get us to like both opponents, the film undercuts most of its sharpest comic potential – leaving us instead with musty jokes involving paper-free toilets and involuntarily witnessing one’s daughter getting it on. The title isn’t the only ‘why’ question viewers should be asking.

By: Guy Lodge


Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Monday December 26 2016
Duration: 111 mins

Cast and crew

Director: John Hamburg
Screenwriter: John Hamburg, Ian Helfer
Cast: Bryan Cranston
James Franco
Zoey Deutch
Megan Mullally

Average User Rating

2.5 / 5

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This has a fundamentally sexist and unrealistic premise: a co-ed entirely devoid of personality becomes the obsession of a thirtysomething tech billionaire, who then spars with her father over who can best control her. Sure, it's not supposed to be brilliant cinema, but it should also aim for not being terrible. This is a waste of charismatic actors. 

Could do better - Although the movie is quite funny (you have to be able to laugh at jokes about sex, pee etc), I was expecting more from Franco and Cranston. I thought the movie would have more clever and subtle humour. What keeps the movie from not being totally lame are definitely the actors, except for the girl who is quite annoying. 

A movie to watch (at home) when you don't want to have to think and just have a good laugh! Sundays and hangovers sound like perfect times. 


A perfect Christmas film- charmless - crude - & unfunny .I don't know who the market is for this sort of product  (maybe thirteen year old boys?) I just wish respected actors would avoid getting involved.